The blog has experienced a bit of suspension as I made a trip to England and France this month. I was the historian (color commentary) for the first Community on the Go trip abroad, an excursion to London, Normandy, and Paris to see the sites of Operation Overlord, the invasion of France during WWII.
Other than these few pictures I’ll leave recounting the trip for another venue, but since this is a blog about a truck, there is room for automotive comment.
I took the opportunity to arrive a few days early, hired a car, and drove out to the end of Cornwall and the site of the family’s origin.
I picked up a car at Heathrow International and had to adapt immediately to driving on the right side of the vehicle and left side of the road. I talked to myself nearly constantly for three days, reminding myself to turn into the left lane, to look to the right at intersections, and to interpret road and street signs.
The drive from London across Devon and through Cornwall was spectacular, even if it was November. The landscape was livid green, the kind of green that North America gets only in spring.
Once I got off the M4 and M5, the driving got positively interesting. Google Maps is a great tool, but it doesn’t think “this is a ridiculously narrow, unmarked lane in the middle of nowhere” for you. The plotted route eventually took me down farm roads through the hedgerow country that were, quite frankly, a little nerve wracking. The roads are narrow enough that I regularly drove with the shrubbery leaving wet traces down the side of the car and me worrying about the liability inherent in rental agreements. These are two-way roads in name only; the only way to drive them is to employ the car-length wide spots in these roads, the only points at which two vehicles can pass each other without a head-on collision. I did that fairly frequently and occasionally backed up to the closest one after coming nose-to-nose with another driver. My host said that proves I am not a local—locals just sit and stare at each other, waiting for the other to move back.
The towns were not much better. I guess that comes from having building sites laid out in the days when distance and speed was measured on a walking scale, well before automobiles could be even imagined. Now that we sit in our little wheeled boxes, the physical setting and needsi to see around the corners historic buildings makes for quite a challenge. The lack of walkways is unsettling, but then traffic is not heavy in St Keverne.
I made it through the countryside and even through urban driving in Plymouth. THAT was an experience I won’t forget. I was busy enough driving on the right—er, correct—side of the road and juggling all the variables while trying to navigate that I did not take the opportunity for a single photograph. For someone used to straight streets, right-angle intersections, and street signs posted close to the road, it was a real challenge.
But, after three days of driving entirely on my own I made it back to London, without damage and without incident.
I’d love to go back. It was spectacular trip, but I have no more trips planned. This year the task is to get back into the Green Truck.